We present the case of a 45-year-old healthy man who successfully completed three stages of the Bruce protocol but developed inferolateral ST segment elevation in the recovery phase. The ECG change was associated with a marked drop in blood pressure. He underwent emergency coronary angiography which revealed normal coronary arteries. It is likely that post-exercise hypotension triggered coronary spasm which caused the ST segment elevation. Alternatively, coronary spasm may have been the primary event, inducing sufficient myocardial ischaemia to cause a marked drop in blood pressure. Exercise tolerance testing is often a reliable test to rule out reversible myocardial ischaemia. While the physician is focused on ischaemic changes or rhythm abnormalities developing during the exercise phase, the recovery period is just as important and requires as much vigilance. Coronary vasospasm can result in significant ST changes and haemodynamic compromise at any point during the test, and the ECG traces can be indistinguishable from a classic ST elevation myocardial infarction, as in the present case.
- interventional cardiology
- ischaemic heart disease
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Contributors The contributions to the manuscript preparation are as follows: RA and ME-O: planning; ME-O: conduct; RA, DR and ME-O: conception and design; RA, SME-O, DR and ME-O: reporting, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data and manuscript writing.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Patient consent for publication Obtained.
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